Everyone hates meetings, but everyone knows they’re essential at the same time. So how do you make meetings more efficient instead of a big waste of time? These websites and apps can help.
The tools in this article are better suited for in-person meetings. While you can use them for remote teams too, you’re better off with the best free online meeting tools to collaborate with your team. From video conferencing to project management, there’s something for everyone in that list.
Lettuce Meet (Web): Find When You Can Meet, No Signup Needed
It’s annoying to sign up to a new service for every small task. Lettuce Meet is a simple web app to figure out the most convenient date and time for everyone to meet, by asking for each’s preferences.
It’s terribly simple. Start a desired meeting with its name and purpose, then add the dates you can meet on, and pick time slots in each day that you are free. Send the unique Lettuce Meet URL to anyone else, who can add their own availability similarly. All participants’ free slots (indicated as green) will overlap with each other, showing you the best times to meet.
Lettuce Meet is one of those simple no-signup collaboration tools that help you get things done without jumping through hoops. Within your own company, it’s easier to use Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook. But when it’s a meeting with external people, like clients or customers, a no-fuss tool like Lettuce Meet is a more neutral path.
Team Meeting Checklist (Web): Checklist to Run Efficient Meetings
Do you often have to endure long and pointless meetings? That usually happens because the person leading the meeting has not prepared well enough. This Team Meeting Checklist will ensure the meeting runs smoothly for both the leader and the participants.
The checklist is divided into tasks for before, during, and after a meeting. The “During” part is full of small tidbits that you should pay heed to, because those are the things that often derail meetings. For example, “one topic will be discussed at a time” and “each agenda item will be wrapped-up out loud” seem trivial, but they will go a long way in ensuring the meeting was a success.
You can print out the entire checklist to carry with you to the meeting. Team Meeting Checklist encourages you to click all the buttons of the checklist and email it to all participants, as declaring your goals out loud creates a bit of social pressure to help you perform. It’s similar to having a mastermind group to achieve goals.
Smartsheet’s Meeting Agenda Templates (Doc): Free Templates to Set Agendas
Every meeting needs a fixed agenda. If you don’t have that in place, you’re headed for a meandering discussion where nothing gets done and everyone wastes their time. To learn how to set the meeting agenda, use these free templates as guides.
Smartsheet’s list of free templates covers a range of different meeting scenarios: informal meeting, business meeting, board meeting, team meeting, simple meeting, weekly meeting, and so on. You can use these templates in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or any word processor you like that supports the DocX file format.
While the templates are a good backbone to set the agenda, make sure you also read Harvard Business Review’s tips on how to design a meeting agenda. It has some great tricks, such as listing topics as questions the team needs to answer, instead of generic, open-ended titles.
Finally, if you don’t find what you need in the above agenda templates, check out our list of another 15 meeting agenda templates for Word.
AgreeDo (Web): Take Meeting Minutes, Share Them, and Assign Tasks
One person in each meeting should be tasked with taking minutes. “Minutes of the meeting” is basically a list of anything noteworthy that happened. This can be tasks, information, topic discussions, or more. AgreeDo helps you separate that easily, and for free.
It’s easy to create an account, set up a meeting, and invite participants. Each item can be marked as one of four types: information, decision, task, or topic. This makes it easier for someone taking minutes to jot down things quickly right now, and later turn them into the right category.
Tasks can be assigned to participants by adding their email, and you can also give it a deadline. You can add one attachment to each meeting too. Participants can also add comments to the minutes.
The free version of AgreeDo restricts you to four meetings a month, and three participants and one attachment per meeting. The premium version can increase these limits as per your needs.
It’s good practice to wrap up each meeting by going over its minutes and ensuring everyone agrees with them. If AgreeDo isn’t your cup of tea, you can use meeting minutes templates for Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
It’s Not Just About Standing Up (eBook): Free Guide to Daily Morning Meetings
Project management app Qlutter is all about making work efficient. They put together a free ebook that teaches their own practices of how to run an efficient and effective daily morning meeting.
Through eight chapters, the ebook talks about the benefits of morning meetings, how to get your team on-board with the idea, and how to run the meeting. It’s a short book at 44 pages, but at the end of it, you’ll feel better equipped to run daily meetings in the form of stand-up or scrum meetings.
You’ll need to sign up for the Qlutter newsletter if you want the book, after which you can get it in PDF, mobi, or epub format. It’s easier to send it straight to your Kindle.
Download: It’s Not Just About Standing Up (eBook) [No Longer Available]
What to Do When You’re Not Leading the Meeting
So now you have easy tools to set up the meeting, create a checklist to keep it on track, set an agenda, and take minutes. You even know how to run a daily meeting efficiently. But all of that is useless if you’re not leading the meeting.
In case the meeting was called by your boss, and they have a tendency to let meetings wander aimlessly, you need to do something about it. Start by sending this article on the eight rules a boss should know for efficient meetings. Do it politely though, or send it anonymously.